Military history


Bloody Ridge

The capture of this hill is worth ten thousand men!

— Remark by a French general on the Western Front, 1916.

Generous bastard, isn't he?

— Quote from the French general's first assault battalion commander.

FOR ALL PRACTICAL purposes the Korean War ended 30 June 1951, when United Nations Supreme Commander Matthew Ridgway radioed his willingness to discuss truce terms with the Communist forces. The end was stalemate.

At heavy cost, the original aggression and the fresh intervention of the Chinese had been contained. The aggressor in each case had suffered frightful losses and had gained nothing material.

Having eschewed the goal of victory, the United States had nothing further to gain from continued fighting. It had accomplished its original purpose in going into Korea, the salvation of the Taehan Minkuk.

The Communist World had gained no territory, wealth, or peoples—but by opposing American arms, by defying the United Nations, with some success, Red China had undoubtedly neared great-power status. Her prestige among Asian peoples, still smarting from Western humiliations, was enhanced, whatever moral questions were involved.

A nation that had been continually harassed and humiliated by all powers since 1840 had actually defied the world, and fought it to a standstill. It was this Asian feeling of solidarity with China that Americans found so hard to understand, as typified by the statement of one Captain Weh, of the Nationalist Chinese Army on Taiwan:

"We listened to the radio, and the Communists were defeating the Americans. All of us in this room were officers who had fought with the Generalissimo for many years. Most of us had fought the Communists all our adult lives. One officer had been captured and tortured by them. In a world the Communists won, there could be no place for any of us, or our families.

"It was very bad for us to have the Communists win. But we had very queer feelings, listening to the news of disaster in Korea. It was almost like a certain exaltation. I do not know how to explain it to you Americans.

"For our Colonel, who hated Communists with all his soul, kept saying: 'The Americans are being beaten by Chinese. The Americans are being beaten by Chinese.'"

It was this feeling, shared by most Asians, that China, though unable now to conquer in battle, wanted to exploit. As long as China could hold a U.N. Army at bay, she stood to gain enormous prestige in Asia.

And because the United States Government took a certain naïveté and almost total lack of understanding of Asian Communism to the conference table, the Korean War, stalemated June 1951, would go on for two more years, and half as many men again as were maimed and killed in its first twelve months had yet to suffer and die.

During the fourteenth plenary session at Kaesong, 30 July 1951, all parties agreed that hostilities should continue even while negotiations were in progress.

But it was from this time forward that political reality in Korea diverged from military, and from this time forward the frustration of American soldiers grew. From now till the end of fighting, political considerations, both international and domestic, would shadow all combat operations.

An army in the field, in contact with the enemy, can remain idle only at its peril. Deterioration—of training, physical fitness, and morale—is immediate and progressive, despite the strongest command measures. The Frenchman who said that the one thing that cannot be done with bayonets is to sit on them spoke an eternal truth.

Unwilling to strike for victory, but equally unable to clutch the elusive dove of peace the Communists tantalizingly held forth and then withdrew, time and again, American commanders and American government leaders began to writhe in frustration.

The situation was hard on the generals, for it was the very antithesis of the American tradition of generalship, cutting across everything it had been taught to believe and do. Their new orders seemed to read: Fight on, but don't fight too hard. Don't lose—but don't win, either. Hold the line, while the diplomats muddle through.

These were directives desperately hard for men brought up to take positive action, and quickly, even if wrong.

But it was harder still for the riflemen and tankers and weapons squads dug in along the scarred, dirty hills. Now they knew less than ever why they dug their holes or why they died. Hoping for the war to end at any moment, they kept one eye on Kaesong or on Panmunjom. When they were ordered to defend a hill or to take one, they knew the action was a limited one, and they knew in their hearts, whatever brave words were said, that such action probably would not affect the outcome of the war at all.

No man likes to give up his life for an inconsequential reason, and there is no honor—only irony—to being the last man killed in a war.

Still the Eighth Army, dug in along what they called the Kansas Line, could not sit idle forever.

When the advance had stopped in June, it had not been along any carefully preplanned battle line. There were bulges, salients, and vague areas of no man's land along the whole front. From a military standpoint, corrections were needed. In many places the Eighth Army held disadvantageous ground.

As the talks droned on at Kaesong, the U.N. Command became more convinced the enemy was stalling. And U.N. commanders agreed that a little pressure, judiciously applied, might have wholesome effect. The decision was made in FECOM, but approved by Washington.

By the first of August, they were ready to apply such pressure. There was no intention of striking for the Yalu or of opening up the battlefront for a new war of maneuver.

The new attacks would be limited in zone, for limited objectives, a hill here, or to erase a bulge there, or to deny enemy observation in yet another place.

The attacks would serve two other purposes—to pressure the enemy into sincerity at the peace table, and to keep the Eighth Army on its toes.

It was not an ambitious program, or an unreasonable one, in the situation. Policy was guided by restraint, and limited.

The only thing that would not be limited were the casualties.

In any democratic society, equality of sacrifice is a cherished ideal. Yet in war nothing is more difficult of attainment.

Soldiers know that it is never possible to share the load completely. One man went to Korea; another—who equally served—never went west of San Francisco. While American units were decimated in the Far East, others went through training in the European Command, without hearing a shot fired in anger.

Soldiers know the reasons this must be so, and accept them. But they also like to think they are getting an even break.

In modern war, short of ending the fighting, combat troops have only three means of escape from incessant action: death or injury, insanity, or rotation. In modern war there are no winter quarters or lengthy withdrawals from action until the harvests are in. In Korea by early 1951, thousands of wounded men had been returned to action, and more thousands of unwounded risked their lives daily, month in and month out.

In the spring of 1951, with no end to what had been considered a short campaign in sight, the United States Government began to consider ways of equalizing the burden, for it was manifestly unfair, in a free society, to ask a few to bear the entire burden.

Troops on line began to hear rumors of a rotation policy. Already there had been set up R&R—Rest and Recuperation—a five-day rest period back in Japan. R&R at first worked wonders. Men came off line, away from incessant danger and hardship, for a flight to Tokyo, Yokohama, or Kyoto. They boarded planes at Seoul and elsewhere, gaunt, unshaven, some with the thousand-yard stare. Five days later they returned, new men, rested, bathed, refreshed. R&R gave the troops something to look forward to; it was a morale factor without equal.

It was only later, when the pressure in Korea was not so great, that men going to Japan turned R&R into the great debauch that came to be known as I&I—intercourse and intoxication. Men coming out of weeks and months of hard combat are too tired and beaten down to seek trouble.

Men leaving months of filthy living and screaming monotony tend to seek something else again.

But R&R, then and later, was only a stopgap. Soon there rose talk of Big R—rotation to the United States.

On 1 May, Captain Muñoz's boss, the 2nd Division G-4, called him in and said, "Frank, you're going home!"

Muñoz was the second officer to rotate from the 2nd Division. The first quota had been for only one, and the man who got that quota had received the Distinguished Service Cross. Muñoz, who had more infantry-line time than any other officer, had only the Silver Star. He made the second draft.

He went from the area of the Soyang to Pusan, and boarded the General MM. Patrick for States-side. A few hours after the "Mickey Mouse" docked, he was on a plane for Tucson. Frank Muñoz's war was over.

All over Korea, those who were left of the early men to arrive began to go home in little dribbles, as new men came in to replace them.

A point system was set up. It took thirty-six points to rotate. On line, a man received four points a month; anywhere in the combat zone, from the firing batteries back through regimental headquarters, three.

Any man in Korea got at least two, which meant rear echelon and service troops rotated at eighteen months. Tankers went out in ten months, the average infantryman within a year.

Now, if asked why they fought, many men would say, "To get my time in." The point system had great merits—and great disadvantages. No man liked to risk his neck—and thirty points.

The handling of high-point men was a continuing problem of commanders from this time on.

Some men, with enough points, did not rotate. James Mount, who had come to Korea a corporal, was made second lieutenant in the medical service. The promotion delayed him till November.

One colonel, who had had long and arduous service since the beginning, was ready to leave. On the eve of his departure he received his brigadier's single star. He felt it a crowning accomplishment to his service in Korea—until he was informed that as a general officer he was on a new rotation list; he was now the general officer with the least overseas service in the Far East. Dedicated man that he was, the new brigadier's remarks were pungent and heartfelt.

After the beginning of truce talks, the primary interest of every man in Korea was going home. It could hardly be otherwise.

And with rotation, the complexion of the Army changed. Now the men and officers coming in were largely reservists, National Guardsmen, draftees. The percentage of regulars in most line units sank to forty or less, as more and more men were recalled from business and farm to man the line. Few of the new officers and men arrived with any enthusiasm, then or later.

For whatever enthusiasm the American people might have had for the Korean conflict had died in childbirth, up along the Ch'ongch'on.

Worse than lack of enthusiasm, the new troops were green. The kind of lessons troops needed to fight this kind of war could be learned only in Korea. In a period of a few months the complexion of the American Army changed, more even than the generals realized.

New troubles were inevitable. But, under the circumstances, it was not remarkable that they occurred—what was remarkable was that the new men, unready, unmoved, and coming from a society that was beginning to hate this war, did so well.

On 1 July, approximately 750,000 Chinese and North Koreans held the Communist battle line, against half a million U.N. troops. The CCF and the Inmun Gun had changed, too.

The cream of the Communist armies had been destroyed, from the Naktong to the Imjin, and from the Imjin to the Soyang.

Replacements coming down the mountains were recent inductees, impressed from rice field and village, untrained, in some cases unarmed and badly clothed.

But though they might not be expert at war, these men were used to hard work and hardship all their young lives. Their leaders set them to work, digging. From the Sea of Japan, on the east, to the Yellow Sea on the west, they burrowed into the earth. They entered mountains from the rear slope, tunneling through to make gun positions opening on the front. They dug bunkers in which a company could safely and warmly bivouac. They dug so deeply into the earth that no conventional gun or cannon could reach them.

They dug bunkers and trenches and firing steps.

And when they had dug these, they went backward and dug a new defensive line, and one beyond that, stretching into the north. They dug a line such as the world had never seen—ten times the depth of any in World War I.

They dug positions that could—and might have to, their leaders reasoned—stand against nuclear explosion.

With their mountains, hollowed out, the training of the new CCF and Inmun Gun could begin. They were taught all the tricks the older men had learned: to move and attack by night, when the terrible American air was impotent; not to rush down valleys, as the CCF had learned to its sorrow on the Imjin and across the Soyang, but again to become phantoms, lurking in the hills, never letting the enemy see them until they chose.

They learned to use their bright new weapons, carried laboriously down from the Yalu, and to load, aim, and fire the huge numbers of cannon with Cyrillic inscriptions on their tubes, now coming into Korea for the first time.

They were sent on patrol, to learn to move quietly and effectively, and to learn the taste of blood.

Over the months, beginning in the summer of 1951, the tough, squat peasant boys from China and Korea learned well.

In the Communist armies there was no rotation.

In February, when MacArthur had again and again pressed for reinforcements for FECOM, Washington had authorized him to arm and train some 200,000 to 300,000 more ROK's.

More than 100,000 South Koreans were in arms, and other thousands served with United States forces, as KATUSA—a program that was quietly being abandoned; the cultural gulf between Korean and American was too great for them to use the buddy system—or laborers.

Each American battalion and company had its indigenous personnel, from barbers to houseboys, paid in native currency and eating Korean rations furnished by the Army. They might add little to the effective fighting ability of the units, but they helped a great deal with the laundry problem.

But American planners were still looking forward to the day of their eventual displacement from Korea, and the twice-shattered ROK Army had to be once again rebuilt. Men—tough, patient, hill-padding Korean peasants—there were in plenty. Surplus weapons from the big war, food, and money to pay them, America could easily furnish.

What neither Korea nor America could furnish was leadership.

A nation that for forty years had been made into hewers of wood and haulers of water could not put forth competent, educated officer material overnight. What little the Tachan Minkuk had enjoyed had mostly died north of the Han in 1950.

Thousands of new Korean officers were sent to the United States, to Army schools like Berming and Sill. But these schools could not graduate enough men to officer an army quickly.

And there was another problem, aside from the lack of officer material, common to most imperfectly democratic societies. Military preferment in the ROK Army often followed political preferment. The politicians in primitive societies want no generals they cannot trust. They prefer a politically reliable man at the head of a division to a competent one who may happen to belong to the wrong family or team.

In almost all non-Communist Sinic countries, armies tend to be paternal, also. The discipline and punitive code of the ROK Army was severe, in large part inherited from the Imperial Japanese Army—but it was another form of paternalism that constantly gave American KMAG officers gray hairs.

A ROK general was paid 60,000 won per month; a ROK private 3,000. With the won varying between 4,000 and 6,000 to the dollar, no ROK soldier could offer much to his family. His pay included a U.S.-bought ration of 3,165 calories, canned fish, biscuit, barley, kelp, rice, and tea; but his family had to eat, too.

Frequently when the transport of a ROK division was vitally needed to haul ammunition at the front, the trucks were back in the interior carrying firewood for soldiers' dependents, or on private hire to build the divisional welfare fund. Gasoline disappeared regularly into the civilian economy.

KMAG fought a losing battle against five thousand years of Oriental custom. Most of them, it must be admitted, developed a frustrated respect for the Chinese Reds who overnight destroyed the "silver bullets" tradition of the Chinese Army—the old situation when Chinese generals fought not with bullets of lead, but silver, meaning they could be bought—and who delivered supplies from Canton to Mukden, and from Mukden to Korea without pilfering, tampering, or diversion to private use according to sacred custom. But the Chinese Communists, puritan like all human revolutionists, had means not available to KMAG.

In the CCF it was very easy to have a man shot.

KMAG itself had difficulties. Traditionally, a nation instructing another should send its best men abroad, traditionally, from Athens to the America of 1950, nations do not. There was little prestige, promotion, or hope of glory in serving with the Korean Military Advisory Group. The United States Army tended to forget these men. Most officers who could avoid KMAG duty did so, preferring to serve among their own troops, where food, companionship, and the chances of recognition were all considerably improved.

Unfortunately, a certain number of KMAG, understandably, became more interested in Korean seikse and the whiskey-run to Seoul on Saturday night than in the future of the Republic of Korea Army.

But with all its deep-seated troubles, the ROK Army grew. Eventually it would stand at 600,000 men, and man two-thirds of the Korean line, and take more than two-thirds of the total casualties.

It would remain weak in combat support, such as engineers and communications men. Korea produced no trained men. And it would remain weak in artillery; it would have no armor, and almost no air.

It would depend upon transportation built in Japan on American order, and it would totally depend on American munitions, fuel, and supply, other than food.

The United States wanted an army that could defend its homeland, but not one grown so independent it might follow its own course, or listen to its own leader, Syngman Rhee.

As the Korean War lengthened, the ROK Army would, as Rhee said, "hold fifty-one percent of the stock," bought with its blood.

But its U.N. and American directorate, firmly united on the point, would never allow the Korean majority stockholders voting rights, from now to the end of fighting.

Brigadier General Haydon L. Boatner, United States Army, arrived in Korea in August 1951, just at the time the Eighth Army had decided, with irrefutable military logic, to lean on the CCF and NKPA before it occurred to the otherside to lean on them.

It took Haydon Boatner four and one-half days to come from the Commandancy of Texas A&M, where he had picked up the odd sobriquet of "The Bull," to Bloody Ridge.

Boatner, a Louisianan, was a professional soldier from a family of professional soldiers. Some observers, eyeing the undeniable hereditary cast of American generaldom, have voiced fears that this tendency may become in time a caste—but the fact that sons follow the career of their fathers in the military is no more unusual, or deplorable, than the fact that lawyers' sons become lawyers, or a Ford makes autos in Detroit.

And just as family-owned corporations in the main are as well-managed as others, a Douglas MacArthur or a young Van Fleet, missing in action in Korea—both the sons of generals—make as good soldiers as the next fellow.

There is nothing wrong with a caste so long as it remains open-end, and competent.

Haydon Boatner had graduated first in the West Point Class of 1924. In 1928 he went to the Far East, beginning what was to be a long career on the China station. Young Boatner, of an active mind, began the study of Chinese on the boat, and continued it while on duty with the mounted scouts of the old 15th Infantry at Tientsin.

After two years there, he transferred to Peking, where he took a Master's degree in Chinese at the Evangelical Missionary Language School. His thesis, naturally enough, dealt with war: the Manchu invasion of the Middle Kingdom in the seventeenth century.

In 1942, it was natural enough that old China Hand Boatner should end up in Burma, on General Stilwell's staff. Here he was among the first of his class to make brigadier, and here he spent thirty-eight months, going finally up to China, where he drew up the original surrender terms for the Japanese Army in China.

But with Stilwell, he was run out of Burma in 1942, and serving with Vinegar Joe—who, like Krueger, was sometimes given to referring to the commander in chief as a horse's ass—was not the most advantageous place to be in World War II. Europe, not the CBI, was where the guns, glamour, girls, and fresh new stars were. Men who were junior to Boatner, and who got a transfer to the European Theater, ended up with more stars than the single one he still wore in 1945.

In 1951, still a one-feather chieftain, he returned to the Far East.

With ten years of service in the Orient, with Asian troops, Boatner figured he would go with KMAG. He was deeply gratified, however, when General Milburn, FECOM G-1, told him in Tokyo, "You're being assigned to the 2nd Division."

Later, he heard that Van Fleet had been told Boatner should go to Koje-do as commandant of the pow compounds. Haydon Boatner would always thank God he did not. The time to go into a ball game is when the last pitcher has cleared the bases—not when he has walked them full. Though in August 1951 General Boatner had only vaguely heard of the island of Koje-do.

At 2nd Division, Boatner became Clark Ruffner's Assistant Division Commander.

As part of the leaning operation, the Eighth Army was making what were designed as limited attacks here and there along Battle Line Wichita, which Eighth Army had prepared when the talks began at Kaesong. The objectives of these attacks were a hill here, such as Fool's Mountain or the Punchbowl of the 2nd Division zone, or to deny vital ground to the enemy, such as Million Dollar Hill in the 24th's area.

But the mountains, here in east-central Korea were growing steeper. The North Koreans, defending here, had, like the Japanese of World War II, gone underground.

In these hills armor could normally only support by fire, and air was not wholly effective. And here, abruptly, the war of maneuver ended.

In a four-day battle for Hill 1179, both sides lost heavily. And when 1179 fell, beyond it lay one more hill, or rather three, 983,940, and 773, forming a steep ridge several thousand yards long.

This ridge, parallel to the battle line, lay directly athwart the U.N. advance. It had little value to anyone, except as a vantage point for superior observation over the defensive line hostile to whoever held it.

But it was there, and that seemed reason enough to take it.

And it seemed an excellent opportunity for the ROK Army, newly revitalized, to show the world what it could do.

To the 36th ROK Regiment, 7th Division, supported by the tanks of B Company, 72nd Tank Battalion, American air, and 2nd Divarty, came orders on 17 August, to assault and seize this ridge.

As liaison with them, Clark Ruffner detached his Chief of Staff, Colonel Rupert Graves, to give the ROK's all the help they needed to convince the world that they had come to maturity.

Behind the 36th ROK's stood Colonel Lynch's 9th Infantry, ready to support by every means of fire available to an American regiment.

The ROK's were brave, and they tried hard.

They advanced onto steep slopes plowed by a maze of deep trenches, thorny with hidden bunkers. The bunkers were fortified to withstand air and artillery pounding, and some had room for two platoons of NKPA. Others sheltered small cannon and mortars. Dug into a rubble of partially wooded slopes, obscured by morning mists, the North Korean positions were almost impossible to detect.

Until it was too late.

The ROK's were brave, and tried hard, and in ten days the 36th took a thousand killed and wounded. They also took the middle peak, 940, and spread over the ridge that by now ran freely with their blood, on 25 August 1951.

Seeing the decimation of the ROK's, and the desperateness of the NKPA defense, American observers reported to Major General Ruffner that the ROK's needed help. Ruffner called Lieutenant General James Van Fleet for permission to move 9th Infantry onto the ridge with the ROK regiment.

Van Fleet was furious. He had made the rehabilitation of the ROK Army a personal project, and he was determined to demonstrate the project's success to the United Nations and the world. He told Ruffner, "You're trying to hog the glory from the ROK's!"

A few hours later, a massive NKPA counterattack rolled out of the east and sent the ROK survivors of the 36th Regiment stumbling from the hills.

Now there was nothing to do but commit the 9th. The demonstration was shot to hell, but at least the Americans could come in and save the ball game. On 27 August the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry, attacked toward Peak 983 of the ridge. It went forward with utter confidence that somehow the rok's had managed to blow an easy one.

It went into the maze of trenches, hidden bunkers, and stubbled trees along the slope, and it was stopped cold.

Bleeding, the battalion pulled back, out of range.

The 3rd Battalion struck from the east, toward Peak 773. The 3/9 failed to reach even its initial objectives. When night came, the North Koreans counterattacked, and 3/9 fell back on top of 2nd Battalion.

As 1/9 prepared to make its own attack, no part of the hill mass was in friendly hands. And a number of people in high places were becoming distinctly annoyed.

On 30 August, 1/9 and 2/9 attacked the spiny ridge frontally, determined to overwhelm the stubborn resistance quickly. In recent months Eighth Army had grown unaccustomed to this kind of difficulty, and there was complete determination up above to end it at once. The four organic battalions of 2nd Division Artillery, supported by three additional howitzer battalions, two heavy-mortar companies, two regimental tank companies, and a company from the 72nd Tank, registered in on the ridge, and stood ready.

In all, artillery fired 451,979 rounds. The ridge turned into a flaming hell of whining steel and searing flame. The trees were splintered to stubs, and fresh earth gaped where communications trenches were tumbled.

North Koreans died, by the hundreds. But many were deep in bunkers where no shelling could reach them, until they came out to close with the advancing Americans. And they had artillery of their own, too, firing to protect the ridge—more than any American had so far seen in Korea.

And something else had happened. While the enemy had dug into the hill, the U.S. Army had gone down it. Rotation had removed too many men who had learned the answers; companies were shot through with new, green men and, worse yet, new green officers.

The 9th Infantry was no longer a team. And even the All-Stars, most days, can be licked by any team in the league.

Attacking onto the ridge, the situation grew worse. Able Company, 1/9, was 100 percent casualties three days running. New replacements were fed into the shattered companies while they were still in action, and teamwork and cohesion became even more sporadic.

Conventional supporting weapons have not been invented that can dislodge a stubborn enemy from deliberately prepared positions. The only way to reduce the long ridge was bunker by bunker, at close range, with rifle and grenade. It was horrible, bloody work.

And each night, from ridges running to the north, the NKPA sent fresh men pouring into the disputed positions. Soon, 9th Infantry identified corpses from six separate regiments of the Inmun Gun.

All the artillery, and most of the energy, of an American division and an NKPA corps, were being focused on one small area of bloody earth. Here, at what the correspondents were now calling Bloody Ridge, a new pattern of Korean warfare was being set—one that resembled more than anything else the hideous, stalemated slaughter on the Western Front in World War I.

The 9th Infantry was being decimated. Ruffner sent "Bull" Boatner forward, up to the 9th. Ruffner felt that perhaps the difficulty with the regiment lay with its C.O., and one job of an assistant division commander is to act as hatchet man for his chief. Besides, General Ruffner was eager to promote the executive officer of the 38th Infantry, and was not loath at having a chicken-colonel vacancy in the division.

All this Bull Boatner, a light-haired hooked-nose man, small for a general, whose pale eyes could stab like ice daggers from behind his glasses, and whose high voice could cut like a whip, understood.

Boatner found trouble, and lots of it.

Pushing against Bloody Ridge, the men of 1/9 and 2/9 were being cut to pieces. The troops and leaders were often green. They were brave and, like the ROK's, they were trying hard. It wasn't enough.

They needed flamethrowers to reduce the deep enemy bunkers, and they didn't have them. Worse, few if any men knew how to use them. Boatner set up a school in the use of the flamethrower, and ran men through, quickly. Now, deep in hitherto safe bunkers, soldiers of the Inmun Gun died shrieking in searing flame, as American infantrymen crawled close under fire and sprayed them with newly issued weapons.

Replacements were wandering up to engaged units, and getting killed the first hour, before they could report in. Boatner ordered replacements to be kept in the replacement company at least one day, and to have five or six days' special training before being sent into combat. Men new from the States were often soft. They were to get conditioning exercises, and it was mandatory that they zero their weapons.

This practice the Eighth Army later made mandatory for all divisions.

Boatner met with each group of new replacements. He talked with them calmly, and joked with them. And then, his eyes hard, he told them:

"Let there be no question: it will be tough. You had better do what your N.C.O.'s tell you, if you want to stay alive. And remember three things: when you're on the hill, if you stand up you'll get your ass shot off; if you get off the paths, or roam, you'll get your ass blown off by mines; and when you take a hill, you'll be tired as hell, you'll want to poop out, slap your buddies on the back, and take it easy—but remember, as soon as you take a hill, just as water comes out of a spigot, the mortars come in on you, and blooey!—it's too goddam late then!"

The 9th Infantry tried hard, but it was shattered against Bloody Ridge. The entire 2nd Division was reshuffled. On 2 September there was no attack—and then the brutal, frontal attacks were stopped. Since the action had been conceived of as limited, units had been committed piecemeal, into a small area. Now the 23rd Infantry was sent around the flank, to envelop Bloody Ridge from the side and rear, while the dazed companies of the 9th, filled again with new officers and men, probed once more to fix the enemy.

On 5 September, having lost an estimated 15,363 men, 4,000 of them dead, the NKPA voluntarily relinquished Bloody Ridge. The ROK 35th Regiment went onto 773, and Colonel Bishop's 1/9 occupied peaks 940 and 983 without opposition.

The enemy had not fled. He had merely pulled back to positions on the next prominent ridge line that ran perpendicular to Bloody Ridge, some 1,500 yards to the north.

It had cost the ROK's more than a thousand men, and the 2nd Division almost three thousand, to secure three insignificant knobs among the hundreds that thrust up along the line.

Now the ROK's and 2nd Division rested several days, licking their wounds and eyeing the gloomy peaks to their north. Soon they would move forward against those peaks.

And there the hearts of some men would break.

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